Letter to a White Lady
Sculpture in alabaster by Pascal Cerchi (2014)
I beg to express all my love and admiration, never in doubt since I was so smitten in the workshop of your sculptor father, one day in July, in the backwoods of Burgundy. In the shadow, or almost, of a stone ship dedicated to another Divine Voyager whose candid brightness reflects your own: Vézelay, so luminous on its rocky hill. And such an inspiration to artists and poets.
The years have gone by, and still I feel the same wonder in contemplating the soft, slightly milky light that seems to radiate from you, the smooth curve of your thighs, your quiet, intensely feminine strength. Forgive me, my Lady, if I refuse to name you with the name my friend Pascal Cerchi intended when he brought you forth from a block of alabaster hewn from some mysterious Spanish quarry: “The Hours”. A title well suited to a Parisian gallery – I could already see it printed on the glossy pages of an exhibition brochure. But it did not sound right, struck no chord, as I admired you, barely emerged from that block of marble from which you drew light and strength, before the delicate polishing stage. Because, my Lady, you are one of the Immortals. One of an ageless line of white goddesses whose image you bear: from the ivory figurine of the Venus of Lespugue (an earlier incarnation of yourself, no doubt) to the mysterious, lapis-eyed Princesses of Bactria. From the light-turned-to-marble of the idols of the Cyclades to the translucence of the Louvre Ishtar. You have always been there, from time immemorial, Mother and Protector. You have borne so many names, and have so many yet to bear. The names, unknown, of the first Mothers of Prehistoric Times. The name of the Serpent-Goddess of Crete. The names of the great goddesses of Egypt. And of the Jewel-stone Ladies of Meso-America. The name, lost in the sands of Arabia, of the great goddess Allat. And of the myriad goddesses of the Moon, the Harvest, Springs of Water, who have watched for all eternity over their oh-so-fragile worshippers.
Finally, we lighted on “Gaïa”, and it was under this name that you featured, naked, beautiful, radiant, on the posters of an exhibition staged in the water-fed hollow of a grotto-chapel in the cliff below the old town of Fribourg. A return to your chthonic origins, of which I know you approved. Like the offerings of flowers dear to your Indian sisters: Lakshmi, the Well-Beloved. Durga, the Invincible. Devi, in all her forms.
To your future incarnations, dear Lady, with all my love.